SBJ All-Access: First Pitch For 2019 Brand Engagement Summit
A walk-off win for the home team is a great way to end any game at the ballpark, but that’s how the 2019 Intersport Brand Engagement & Content Summit began last night at Guaranteed Rate Field in Chicago. Shortly after arriving at the ballpark on the eve of the conference, attendees saw White Sox 2B Yolmer Sanchez single in the winning run past five infielders (the White Sox and Royals were finishing a game delayed from the night before). It certainly put White Sox Chair Jerry Reinsdorf in a good mood as he addressed attendees in a Q&A with SBJ Publisher & Executive Editor Abe Madkour in between games.
REINSDORF TALKS CHISOX, MLB, LEADERSHIP
- On what he was thinking in the bottom of the ninth of the game that just ended: “I was trying to figure out -- with the bases loaded and nobody out -- how we could screw it up.”
- On the state of his club: “It’s a process we’ve been going through. We decided a few years ago that we didn’t like being in the middle. We didn’t like being mediocre. And the only way to get good was to get bad.”
- On the length of MLB games: “I don’t think people care about how long the game is as long as it’s an exciting game. If it’s a 2-1 game that takes three and a half hours, then there’s something wrong. Now if it’s a 10-9 game and takes three and a half hours, it’s exciting.”
- On players showing personality, “I love it. That’s why the NBA is so popular. The players have personality and they show it. And people like it. There’s no reason why baseball players shouldn’t be able to. ... You don’t want to be an idiot about it. Short of acting like a fool, I’m all for players showing enthusiasm.”
- On what his role is as CEO, “To do as little as possible. That’s a serious answer. It’s not intended to be funny. The job of any good CEO, whether it be a sports team or IBM or General Motors, is limited to several things: long-range planning, public relations and hiring the right people to do the various jobs and making sure they talk to each other.”
- On those working in sports business being fortunate, “I think about that a lot. I was a lawyer in an earlier life, and then a businessman in the real estate business. I liked what I was doing in those days. But think about coming to a ballpark every single day and how good that is and being in a business where you’re interacting with athletes that people are dying to get near -- we’re very lucky.”
- On dealing with the media, “I’ve learned to not dislike it.”
- Following Reinsdorf’s remarks, attendees in the Terrace Suite along left field took in the second Royals-White Sox game and munched on all-beef hot dogs, barbecue pulled chicken, three-cheese mac cavatappi pasta, soft pretzels with beer cheese, a Southside nacho bar, cole slaw, Italian chopped salad, grilled Caprese squares and some specialty desserts via Levy Restaurants. There was also a sampling with team partner Goose Island Beer Co. (definitely try the Chicago-based brewer’s Next Coast IPA if that’s your jam). White Sox ambassador and 1983 AL Rookie of the Year Ron Kittle also stopped by the suite. Asked about the toughest pitcher he had to face, Kittle immediately went to Bret Saberhagen. KIttle also reminisced with SBJ's Jim Sullivan about a game at Fenway Park when Bruce Hurst took a no-hitter into the seventh inning. The night also ended well for the ChiSox, as they rallied from a 3-0 hole in the first inning for a 4-3 win to take the doubleheader on the South Side.
DRIVING THE DAY
- After attendees arrive and grab some breakfast -- including Irish steel cut oatmeal, scrambled all-natural eggs, hickory-smoked bacon, chicken apple sausage and cheesy hash-brown casserole -- there are some of the hot sessions lined up for the morning of Day 1 at the Renaissance Chicago Downtown:
- A keynote address from Heineken USA CMO Jonnie Cahill
- Execs from the NBA, Adidas, BMO Financial and AT&T talk what’s resonating with fans
- ESPN’s Connor Schell and Jay Williams join Kevin Durant’s business partner, Rich Kleiman, to talk about the NBA superstar’s Thirty Five Ventures and his new ESPN+ show, “The Boardroom.”
- In the afternoon…
- A panel on the success of the Bud Light Fridge around the Browns
- Intersport’s Charlie Besser interviews Quicken Loans CEO Jay Farner
- Biofreeze CMO Michael McGoohan talks reaching young, active consumers
- Mondelez exec Jackie Mrozinski discusses ROI in esports
- A chat with Baron Davis on the NBA and film business
SIGHTS & SOUNDS
- Is that an F1 car parked out front of the Renaissance Chicago Downtown? Why yes it is. The car sitting outside the front entrance to the hotel is meant to bring attention to the F1 festival at Soldier Field on June 8.
- If you’re in the room today, use conference hashtag #SBJEngage
- Tonight’s group activity: networking at the Blackhawks’ practice facility, Fifth Third Arena. Not a bad place to catch some of Game 2 in the Blues-Bruins Stanley Cup Final.